Dalit scholar suicide : Protests, political slugfest over Rohith’s suicide continues

Hyderabad: The political slugfest over the suicide by a dalit student, Rohith Vemula, in the University of Hyderabad continued unabated despite the revocation of the suspension of four of his co-research scholars.

While the controller of examinations and 14 other faculty members belonging to SC/ST communities gave up their administrative posts in solidarity, the Congress and other opposition parties upped the ante and were unrelenting in their demand for sacking of Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya.

Wilting under relentless pressure from the students agitating for the removal of vice-chancellor Appa Rao, the varsity executive council (EC) met and decided to “terminate” the punishment imposed on the students. But the protesting students were not satisfied and burnt copies of the EC decision.
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice and the University of Hyderabad Teachers’ Association has rejected an appeal made by the varsity Vice-Chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile to restart the classes and restore normalcy.
“At a time when the legitimacy of Prof Appa Rao to continue as a VC is in question, without attending to the protesting students, who are on indefinite hunger strike, the absconding VC and Executive Committee met today (not inside the campus) and issued a circular.
“We outrightly reject this illegitimate circular since it came through a Committee headed by the VC, who in our opinion is not the legitimate VC anymore, but in fact a criminal on the run,” the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice alleged in a statement.
Meanwhile, the letter purportedly written by Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar of University of Hyderabad, before he committed suicide, has been sent to the forensic lab for analysis, police sources said.
“The letter was sent to forensic lab for handwriting match and other analysis. It would take a few days to get the report,” police sources told PTI.
Vijaya Kumar, one of the students whose suspension was revoked, said this was not enough. “The VC must go. This (revocation) is a welcome decision. But we can’t celebrate it because Rohith is not there. We have other demands like appropriate compensation and a job for one of the members of Rohith’s family,” he said.
The BJP on its part hit back at the opposition parties on their criticism of the Modi government over the incident, claiming they were using the “opportunity for cheap political advantage” while its ally LJP sought an “independent probe” by CBI or some other agency.
“We demand that Smriti Irani be sacked from Cabinet for attempting to hide facts along with Bandaru Dattatreya, against whom an FIR has been lodged,” Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters in Delhi.

While Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal flew down to Hyderabad to give his backing to the agitating students, members of Congress student wing, National Students Union of India (NSUI) allegedly threw stones at an ABVP office in Bengaluru and reportedly assaulted one of its office-bearers. Police arrested five of the NSUI members in this connection.